This knowledge centre is based on ebbf‘s publication, “Toward a Partnership of Women and Men: Source of Excellence in a Global Economy.” It has also been published by George Ronald, Publisher, Ltd. Oxford.
When ebbf was created in 1990, its first elected Governing Board defined seven core values. One of these values, or principles, was “providing equal opportunities to women and men in all fields of endeavour”.
This knowledge centre is divided into the following sections:
We would be glad to receive your comments and suggestions.
In the EBBF publication, Emerging Values for a Global Economy, first published in 1996, the EBBF core value of “providing equal opportunities to women and men in all fields of endeavour” was explained as follows :
Humanity can be viewed as a bird, with men representing one wing and women the other. Harmonious flight requires equal development of both wings. Similarly in organizations, those that encourage the development and inclusion of such qualities characteristic of women as developing relationships, teamwork, caring, compassion, intuition and sensitivity are moving closer to the new paradigm of management practices needed to compete on quality, service and timeliness. Diversity of gender as well as of race and ethnicity enhances a creative environment and brings new ways of thinking to companies as well as individuals. Since enterprises in developed countries rely on innovation for survival, it is crucial for them to harness human potential. Fostering the growth and development of women by welcoming their special capabilities and recognizing their contributions will thus enhance a company’s prosperity.
Convincing as it may seem, this core value evoked less resonance in business circles than other values such as corporate social responsibility, sustainable development and business ethics. Since then, increasing attention has been drawn to women and their emergence as capable leaders in all walks of life: politics, government, civil society organizations, NGOs, legal and accounting professions, and, yes, also as leaders of companies of all sizes. As presidents and prime ministers, as managing partners of multinational law firms, as entrepreneurs, as CEOs of 15 of the Fortune 500 companies – women have demonstrated their capacity to lead and manage.
It is therefore timely for EBBF to add to its collection of publications and its web site convincing evidence that a true partnership of women and men leaders, and the blending of feminine and masculine values and qualities, will enhance competitiveness and prosperity. In doing so, this material is not focused on women versus men but rather on meeting today’s critical needs to balance female and male values, qualities, and practices in management and leadership. Far from being a dichotomous proposition, our plea is that feminine values inspire the leadership practices of both women and men throughout the corporate world. We propose reframing the gender debate, taking it out of the various boxes into which it has been awkwardly pushed for the past decades – whether as a “women’s issue”, a dimension of diversity, or an equal opportunity argument – and treat it as a business issue and a major opportunity to enhance economic growth, competitiveness, and excellence.
NEW Click here to download a condensation of EBBF’s Publication highlighting the opportunities of moving towards a “Partnership of Women and Men – source of competitive advantage”
You can purchase the full publication going to George Ronald’s website here.
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Below, you can see the slides and hear the commentary to the slides, offered by Adrian Kielhorn
You can find parts two and three of the video commentary at the following links:
“Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the emergence of our next economic revolution” by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox & Alison Maitland, Jossey-Bass, 2008.
During the past six months or so I have had the opportunity to read nearly a dozen books and countless articles on the subject of women in business. Most of them point out the many qualities of women managers and leaders and attempt to answer the burning issue of why so few women actually rise to the top and become board members, CEO’s and senior executives. Much of this literature is based on North American experience. This, the most recent book, and the most relevant for European readers, presents a convincing business case for promoting more women into responsible positions and explains such major barriers for women as the glass ceiling (or the sticky floor), stereotypes, male-dominated corporate cultures, work/life imbalances, and HR policies and practices. At the same time the authors emphasize the great need for more ‘bilingualism’ in men, that is, a greater sharing of feminine and masculine values in leadership. In so doing this book is directly relevant to understanding one of the core values of EBBF: “the partnership of women and men in all fields of endeavour”, and how this partnership can be achieved through a blending of male and female values and characteristics.
To give a taste of the flavor of this book, here are a few extracts from the many excellent reviews it has received. “There is a growing body of evidence that gender equality is not only the right thing to do: it is good for business and good for economies.” “Gender equality strengthens long-term economic development. (OECD)” “The promise of gender diversity remains elusive for many world-class companies.” “Women and men are not from Venus or Mars; both are from planet Earth” “today’s gender imbalanced business world”, “Economic growth is driven by women.”, “attracting, retaining, inspiring and promoting talented women”, “The feminine approach to leadership is not confined to women
For EBBF members and friends seeking ways to win the war for talent, this excellent book is a “must read.”
“Reach for the Top: Women and the Changing Facts of Work Life” Edited by Nancy A. Nichols, A Harvard Business Review Book, 1994.
Today, women are present in ever increasing numbers in the workplace, in ever more diverse and powerful positions. Their presence raises a host of complex issues. Do women manage differently than men, and if so, how? Are there ways in which companies can promote and encourage powerful leaders who do not necessarily fit the traditional mold? And how is it possible to accommodate the needs of career and family without jeopardizing either?
These and many other issues are addressed in this collection of articles published in the Harvard Business Review. The introduction by editor Nancy A. Nichols begins with an acknowledgement of the complex mix of opportunities and limitations that women encounter as they enter a workplace originally designed for men. The volume goes on to address a number of the challenges and frustrations confronting today’s professional women, incorporating the perspectives of leading analysts, successful businesswomen, and men and women who have personally experienced the daily complex interactions occurring in offices around the world.
Among many thought-provoking essays and case studies, this collection includes Judith Rosener’s article examining the “feminine style” of leadership and the controversial piece by Felice Schwartz that began the national debate about the “mommy Track.” Other articles discuss sexual harassment in the workplace, competition between sexes, the glass ceiling, and the subtle tide of resentment that causes women to have corporate offices and begin their own businesses – or even withdraw from professional life altogether.
The articles in Reach for the Top do not advocate a single correct approach to the issues facing professional women in the workplace, but the insights, suggestions, and encouragement offered will help today’s women respond to frustrations, achieve goals, and fulfill their highest potential as they reach for the top.
“Off-Ramps and On-Ramps: Keeping Talented Women on the Road to Success” by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. Harvard Business School Press, Boston. 2007.
Legions of professional women step off their career fast track at least once to raise children, care for elderly parents, or manage other family demands. But when they are ready to step back on track – just a short time later – they hit a wall. On-ramps are few and far between, and the financial penalties for “time out” are punishing. Result? Many women are lost on reentry, and companies miss out the this talent pool.
With talent shortages looming over the next decade, companies must reverse this female brain drain. But how can companies attract and retain professional women? Off-Ramps and On-Ramps answers this critical question by documenting the successful efforts of thirty-four leading-edge global companies. This book, a vital resource, offers the most comprehensive and nuanced picture of women’s career paths to date. It also smashes a “male competitive model” that has long insisted on smooth, cumulative lockstep careers and carves out space and opportunity for women in talent-hungry companies.
“The difference “difference” makes – women and leadership” edited by Deborah L. Rhode. Stanford University Press, Stanford. 2003.
This book is a selection of articles by people in the legal profession covering different aspects related to leadership and women. Very valuable is the introduction by Deborah Rhode at the beginning of the book. On just 50 pages she manages to summarize the vast amount of evidence in this field. She also condenses the list of issues down to a key few. This makes this vast topic more tangible for the reader. The section is well researched, the interpretation of the evidence careful and the many references allow the reader to “dig deeper”.
The other sections of the book cover the added value of diversity (the difference “difference” makes) and barriers for women on the path to leadership positions and how to overcome them. The articles very in length and research quality. A very distinguishing feature of this book is a section on the role of men in the whole process of advancing helping women advance into leadership positions. While this section is brief, it is nevertheless an acknowledgement that both men and women need to collaborate in partnership to create a society in which women can advance into leadership positions more easily.
The Global Compact, a multi-stakeholder network, is the world’s largest global corporate citizenship initiative. It is driven largely by its private and civil society participants. It aims to encourage corporate citizenship through country outreach, policy dialogue, a learning forum, and various initiatives and projects .
The European Alliance for CSR is a partnership of the European Commission, CSREurope, and over 200 European companies aimed at mobilizing the resources of large and small European companies and their stakeholders in and around ten priority areas such as fostering entrepreneurship, helping SMEs, diversity, eco-efficiency, and stakeholder dialogue.
Danone, the large French-based multinational, co-created with the Grameen Bank a ‘social business’, Danone-Grameen Foods, to produce and sell an enriched yoghurt at a price affordable to the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh. Their goal is twofold: to improve the health of children and to create employment.
Drug maker GlaxoSmithKline formed an alliance with Path, a not-for-profit NGO funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to research and develop a malaria vaccine.
Telenor created a joint venture with the Grameen Bank as part of a strategy to enter the mobile phone market in Bangladesh.
Amnesty International: There are over 20 countries with Amnesty Business Support Groups in which companies join together to promote good human rights practices.
The European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS) is a unique alliance of companies, business schools and academic institutions. With the support of the European Commission, it is committed to integrating business in society issues into the heart of business theory and practice in Europe.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) created a dedicated partnership program in 1998 working with large companies and other partners to support the development of small and medium-size companies.
Business Partners for Development is a multi-stakeholder project-based learning initiative that studies, supports and promotes strategic examples of partnerships involving business, civil society and government working together for the development of communities around the world.
UNICEF and its Signature for Good programme, begun in 1987, partners with ten international airlines to collect foreign currency from airline passengers. The proceeds go to impoverished children.
The International Labour Office and EBBF undertook a joint research and training project on socially responsible enterprise restructuring. Copies of the 117-page report have been translated by the ILO into a number of languages and used for training purposes in Russia, China, and Turkey. EBBF has participated in a number of training programmes on this topic at the ILO Training Centre in Turin.
AIESEC, the largest student-run association with 28,000 members in over 100 countries, and EBBF have a number of learning partnerships in Europe. AIESEC organizes local (on university campuses), national, regional and international activities. EBBF brings the experience of their members, most of whom are business leaders and entrepreneurs, while AIESEC organizes the events and provides logistical support.
The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced.
Equality between women and men is one of the fundamental values of the European Union.
A commitment to the establishment of full equality between men and women, in all departments of life and at every level of society, will be central to the success of efforts to conceive and implement a strategy of global development. Indeed, in an important sense, progress in this area will itself be a measure of the success of any development program. Given the vital role of economic activity in the advancement of civilisation, visible evidence of the pace at which development is progressing will be the extent to which women gain access to all avenues of economic endeavour.
From a statement prepared by the Bahá’í International Community first published for the United Nations Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995
In this Revelation of Baha’u’llah, the women go neck and neck with the men. In no movement will they be left behind. Their rights with men are equal in degree. They will enter all the administrative branches of politics. They will attain in all such a degree as will be considered the very highest station of the world of humanity and will take part in all affairs. Rest ye assured. Do ye not look upon the present conditions; in the not far distant future the world of women will become all-refulgent and all-glorious, … the entrance of women into all human departments is an irrefutable and incontrovertible question. No soul can retard or prevent it.
You are quite right in stating that men and women have basic and distinct qualities. The solution provided in the Baha’i teachings is not … for men to become women, and for women to become men. Abdu’l-Baha gave us the key to the problem when He taught that the qualities and functions of men and women “complement” each other. He further elucidated this point when He said that the “new age” will be “an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more properly balanced”.
The Universal House of Justice
I am convinced that, at this time of rapid and potentially destructive technological and social change, only a full and equal partnership between women and men, informed by an ethos of caring, can ensure that the partnership movement that we are seeing in both society at large and in the workplace will succeed.
The realities of things have been revealed in this radiant century, and that which is true must come to the surface. Among these realities is the equality of men and women … women must prove her capacity and aptitude, must show forth evidences of equality … By this means she will demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation … Undoubtedly God will confirm her in her efforts and endeavours, for in this century of radiance Baha’u’llah has proclaimed the reality of the oneness of the world of humanity and announced that all nations, peoples and races are one.
Women managers see and do things differently from male managers. They are more sensitive, more intuitive, committed, and multi-tasked. They are more focused on the process of getting things done, whereas men tend to be focused on the task at hand. We need both. Also women can cope more easily as structures change from hierarchical to matrix and web styles of management.
Our research highlights the futility of debates over whose leadership style – men’s or women¡s – is most effective. Such questions become moot when the criteria for effective leadership flow from real requirements of the work. What matters … is not which stereotyped style is more effective, but rather what behaviour will be most effective in a given situation … The differences (in style) are small, consistent with gender stereotypes, context-specific, and arguably meaningful.
Meyerson, Ely, and Wernick, 1997
One of the potentialities hidden in the realm of humanity was the capability and capacity of womanhood … In this day man must investigate reality impartially and without prejudice in order to reach true knowledge and conclusions. What, then constitutes inequality between men and women ? Both are human. In powers and functions each is the complement of the other. At most it is this: that women have been denied the opportunities which man has so long enjoyed…
Many mainstream organizations equate stereotypical masculine traits with images of competence and leadership, and women pay a price … The result is that women who are tough, confident, and decisive are demonized as bitchy, strident, and insensitive. By the same token, women who are sensitive, relational, and warm are discounted as weak, passive, and too nice. Either way, women are seen by some as unfit for leadership roles.
Heilman et al
The world of humanity has two wings – one is women and the other men. Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.
Woman’s lack of progress and proficiency has been due to her need of equal education and opportunity. Had she been allowed this equality, there is no doubt she would be the counterpart of man in ability and capacity. The happiness of mankind will be realized when women and men coordinate and advance equally, for each is the complement and helpmeet of the other.
I think the real benefit of having women and diversity in a team is that you have a richer set of ideas and better decisions. So, I truly believe there is a direct relationship between team performance and having a diverse team with the best talents.
A Vice-President for Europe of a leading global healthcare company.
Great ideas still come from people … The challenge is to create the right environment to encourage innovation and ideas. The diversity of people in a corporation promotes innovation because it achieves greater diversity of ideas. There is a link between diversity and innovation that’s not theoretical – it’s real.
Indra Nooyi, CEO PepsiCo
Again it is well established in history that where woman has not participated in human affairs the outcomes have never attained a state of completion and perfection. On the other hand, every influential undertaking of the human world wherein woman has been a participant has attained importance.
The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged prerequisites of peace. The denial of such equality perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world’s population and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried from the family to the workplace, to political life, and ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral, practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified. Only as women are welcomed into full partnership in all fields of human endeavour will the moral and psychological climate be created in which international peace can emerge.
The Universal House of Justice
They will constitute a conceptual leap from thinking about gender as an individual characteristic to thinking about it as a central organizing feature of social life, influencing not only men and women, but also the very knowledge that underlies our beliefs about what makes for good workers, good work, and successful organizations.
Mallory Stark (2003)
The shift of paradigms requires not only an expansion of our perceptions and ways of thinking, but also of our values … as far as values are concerned, we are observing a shift from competition to cooperation, from expansion to conservation, from quantity to quality, from domination to partnership.
Fritjof Capra (1982)
“Children of Men! Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created.”
Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 356
The obvious biological differences between the sexes need not be a cause for inequality or disunity. Rather, they are an aspect of complementarity. If the role of women as mothers is properly valued, their work in nurturing and educating children will be respected and properly rewarded. It should also be acknowledged that the child-bearing role does not diminish one’s aptitude for leadership, or undermine one’s intellectual, scientific or creative capacity. Indeed, it may be an enhancement.
Baha’i International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations
Women have equal rights with men upon earth; in religion and society they are a very important element. As long as women are prevented from attaining their highest possibilities, so long will men be unable to achieve the greatness which might be theirs.
Paris Talks: Addresses given by Abdu’l-Baha in Paris in 1911-1912, 10th ed. – London: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1979, p. 133